Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sleeping Tips for the New Mom

I just went to a baby shower, where I gave the same thing I give EVERY first time mom: the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. But this time, I included in the card a short list of my best sleep advice. I thought it would be fun to include it here.

  1. Do not leave the hospital until you are taught and are very good at "burrito wrapping" your baby. Find a couple of different nurses to show you how they do it, and then PRACTICE A TON at the hospital. You will need this skill.

  2. Remember (And this is related to #1) that your little sweetie just came from a cramped little place, where she felt incredibly secure. When you put baby into the crib, your baby will feel most secure (and therefore sleep better) when you can mimick the security of the womb. Burrito wrap her, then use a receiving blanket, folded up to look like a long, flat snake, and tuck that around her head tightly, and then put a firm, rolled up blanket on either side of her. (This image shows the "flat snake" and buritto wrap.)

  3. Begin super early (like in the first 2 weeks of life outside the womb) to allow baby to cry in her crib, both to go down to sleep and when awaking. A decent rule of thumb is allow her to cry for one minute for every week she has been home from the hospital. She needs to learn to self-soothe and she needs to be taught how to sleep. If you are too quick to go in, you might actually interrupt a sleep cycle...she might be "crying out" but not actually awakening.

  4. (Related to #3) I always used a timer because I really hated letting my babies cry. That timer gave me a mental break because I knew when it was time to go get by baby. I would hear that cry and immediately go set the timer. You would be amazed how often baby falls back asleep...hint was apparently not ready to be awake!

  5. Especially in those first couple of weeks, put baby to sleep in her crib before she is tired. This gives her the chance to enjoy (because she is not too tired to enjoy it) being all bundled in her crib, looking around a bit and quietly drift to sleep all by herself.

  6. If baby is not comfortable sleeping on her back, try her on her side.

  7. Start each morning at the same time, which will usually mean waking baby up. It feels impossible, but it pays huge dividends.

  8. Sleep begets sleep... the better your baby sleeps at naps, the better the night sleep she will get. It is completely counter-intuitive, but starving your baby of sleep will not a better night-sleeper she make. Trust me.

  9. If you think that getting your baby to sleep through the night is all about YOU wanting YOUR night's sleep, think again. Your baby needs that solid uninterrupted sleep way more than you do. So don't play yourself the martyr, thinking that you are doing what's best for the baby if you get up at night whenever she "needs you." By 10-12 weeks, what she really needs is sleep. So do the right thing and begin to teach her to sleep through the night as soon as Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child says to.

  10. The best baby book out there to teach you how to teach your baby how to sleep (did you follow that?) is Marc Weissbluth's Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. Read it and reread it. And then read it again. It is an incredible reference, and it does not make judgments upon families for the choices they make: co-sleeping, family bed, cry-it-out, no-cry method. No judgments (how refreshing). You just get his research findings in an easy-to-swallow writing style.

  11. Did I mention Heathy Sleep Habits Happy Child?

What would you add to the list?


Megan said...

It's so much easier with the second baby to allow a little bit of crying in the crib. Already (it's only been two weeks) there have been several times where I put Elsie down and need to do something for Jenna. By the time I go back in for fussing baby Elsie, she is sound asleep. With the first all I could do was sit there and go crazy while she cried. And it was probably all of 30 seconds before I picked her up. Took until she was about a year old before we became a family good at sleeping (although I could go without Jenna's 6:30am wake time!) Anyone have a solution for that?

Heidi said...

So I just ordered that book. I never learned enough tricks, and am hopeing our sleeping situations are better with Cole!

faith said...

Thank you for the "sandwich" advice. Luke is almost 9 weeks old and he still has two tightly rolled blankets on either side of him! My problem now with the crying it out thing (because we did it with Peyton and it payed off in a couple days) is my fear of him waking either Peyton or Bryan, so when he cries at 5:30 in the morning and my poor husband has to get up at 6:30 and I don't want Peyton waking up, it's just easier to feed him for 20 minutes and put him back down. It's just hard also to know if he is really hungry or if he's just fussy sometimes! Ahh! Also, when the kids are both napping at the same time (I love those times) and Luke wakes up crying, my first reaction is to go in and put the bink back in instead of taking the risk of him waking Peyton..I NEED that alone time!!:) I guess I should just order the book..I've heard great things about it. I used Baby Wise with Peyton and it worked great, didn't really work with Luke! Any suggestions Jenne? You are full of knowledge...

faith said...

also...I can't remember when babies should wake up happy? That doesn't happen for a while does it? I remember knowing Peyton was ready to get up because she was happy and she wasn't ready to get up when she was crying. That has yet to happen but I'm pretty sure Luke is still too young..just thought I'd see if anyone knew...

Jenne said...

Faith, not knowing all the details (and the details are usually important), I would say that feeding Luke at 5:30 is not only ok, it is appropriate. Dropping that 5:30 feeding is a process that I don't think is blog-able. But it is phone-conversational :)

And extending the nap with a quick binki pop... again, not knowing all the details, that seems like an ok thing to do as well.

When do they start waking up happy...ooohhhhh! what a GOOD QUESTION! (One that I don't have an answer to off the top of my head.) Anyone??

Heidi said...

Cole now wakes up happy and is 4 months, I think he has been doing that for almost a month?

Anonymous said...

I say that 3 months was the "magic" age if you will, that my kids started waking up happy and sleeping better. Naps and a little more structure in there schedules were definatley possible at that point. I think anything before that is doing your best but you are still in survival mode with sleep. Hang in there Faith! Not much longer to go!!